Review of Black water by Joyce Carol Oates

Black WaterBlack Water by Joyce Carol Oates

Cautious interwinement of different time modes and perspectives held a lot of promise. Parts of the plot were carefully strung into a captivating, fight-for-breath whole. Along with the lack of misplaced words and clutter, it was what made the flow neat and tidy, but also what opened the possibility of its pitfall. By definition, stringing pieces in a sequence involves staying within the narrow line and connecting similar components. The same happened to the story – the auspicious start did not progress and evolve, but only invoked a complementary platitude.

The purpose of books based on true stories, is to give us a possible narrative behind the bare facts. Instead of plausible interpretation and deeper understanding this one delivers only more cliches and pompousness. It felt as if the author had mistaken an image of an all-American gal, with unresolved daddy issues and girl-power ambitions, for a person. The protagonist and her relations had no uniqueness that would make them convincing, but remained the manufactured products waving from the billboard, that one sometimes wants to get to know, but never can. Yellow pages of an artsy journal would have as much effect. Life can be but a series of coincidences and its end a peak of absurdity, but at least it has some moments of significance, which is a fact this book desperately tries to avoid.

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17 thoughts on “Review of Black water by Joyce Carol Oates

  1. I too, believe you have this book mastered in your mind and in review. The thing I love about Steinbeck is his character development. I sometimes feel that spot is over simplified, but it is, in my estimation what has made the book a powerful classic. Great job!

    I saw you visited my blog…so glad you stopped by! Welcome! I hope you will come again!
    Myra

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  2. Thank you very much, you’re too kind! I agree, he knows how to transform each character from being a blank page or a representor of certain “type” to a complex person with rich background.
    Thank you, I will revisit for sure:)

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  3. She came to Houston for a reading for my university where I then went to Graduate School and now work. She was very introverted and was a terrible public speaker–monotone, the whole bit. I was already disappointed when I attended a reception for her before the reading because I had read so many fiction things she had written, and that night she read from a book she was currently writing called On Boxing (history of, movements of, famous boxers and fights, etc.) At the time (I was much younger, she much less confident in herself) I was very judgmental and felt like the evening was a waste of my time. Oh how the young can be impatient and ungrateful!

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  4. Hello Frona,
    I enjoyed reading your recent review and I was struck by the strength of your last few sentences in which you said:
    ‘Life can be but a series of coincidences and its end a peak of absurdity, but at least it has some moments of significance …’
    Yes – it’s funny how chance plays such a major role in shaping a life and how so much of life, on reflection, seems quite absurd. But, at least for me, I do try to give it some significance – and I’m delighted that you reminded me of this.
    With best wishes,
    Robert

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  5. Haha, that reminded me of a similar experience I had… A local celebrity and my idol at the time (high school) one day popped up in our class. She was not boring or weird or anything, quite the opposite… She seemed so normal. Like a regular person. There were no fairies growing from her ears and no fireworks beneath her feet… Imagine that:)

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  6. Hi Robert, thank you, your kindness is more then I ever thought of receiving for my posts. I’m not even equipped to respond to it, so… just thank you! I’ve seen what an interesting blog you have, I’m planning to explore it thoroughly. Until then:)

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  7. I’m not too familiar with her other work, but if that is the case, it is really a shame. Well, it is still possible that that’s just my limited opinion and you should give it a go despite of it (if you haven’t already?). With best wishes!

    Liked by 1 person

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